This recipe is a wonderful meat-free and gluten-free option for Christmas feasting but can make a precious from-the-heart gift. It was inspired by friend and talented chef | food blogger Emma Galloway. I’ve added sour dried cherries and ground allspice, which taste wonderful with preserved vine leaves. If you can’t find dried cherries, dried cranberries marketed as ‘craisins’ can be substituted. Prepare in stages if you can’t commit the time to preparing in one session.
30 preserved vine leaves
1 lrg onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp + extra olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground allspice
150 g medium or long grain rice
2 cups water
4 tbsp toasted pine nuts
50 g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped or currants
2 tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp + a little extra fresh dill, roughly chopped
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
lemon wedges, to serve
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
- Soak the vine leaves in cold water.
- Gently fry the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil with the salt and ground allspice until softened. Stir through the rice and then the water. Cook on very low heat with the lid on for 10 – 15 minutes until the rice is tender.
- Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- Stir through pine nuts, dried sour cherries, lemon zest and juice, dill, parsley and black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 160˚C.
- Lay the vine leaves out on 2 layers of tea towels and roll to dry.
- Facing each vine leaf smooth side down, place a large teaspoonful of filling in the centre and tightly roll, tucking in the sides to form small log shapes.
- Pack them side by side in a heavy-based oven-proof pot and pour over enough cold water to come half way up the side of the dolmades.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with baking paper and lid and bake for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool before chilling.
- Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, toasted sesame, chopped fresh dill and lemon wedges.